Premier League

How Premier League Fixtures Are Decided

The new season kicks off on the weekend of 11/12 August just 27 days after the World Cup final and the campaign will finish on Sunday 19 May 2019.

All 20 clubs, including newly promoted Wolverhampton Wanderers, Cardiff City and Fulham will find out who they’ll be facing, when and where with the first round of TV games for August and September to follow later in July.

Well, the fixtures are actually compiled by a highly sophisticated computer system and rather than drawing every match at random, there are in fact certain rules the computer must follow.

Glenn Thompson of Atos has been in charge of compiling the fixture list since 1992, scheduling 2,036 matches across the top four divisions in England. 

He has explained how it works to the Premier League’s official website.

Thompson said, “there are the golden rules of sequencing, In any five matches, there should be a split of two away and three home fixtures, or the other way around.

A club cannot have more than two home or away matches in a row and will be home and away around FA Cup ties. We will also try hard to prevent any club from having to start or finish the season with two home or two away matches because it would be unfair for a team to finish with two aways, especially if they are looking for points.

During the Christmas period, if you are at home on Boxing Day you will be away on New Year’s Day or the equivalent date. We will also strive to maintain a Saturday home-away sequence throughout the season wherever possible.”

Ever wondered why you never see, say, a Manchester derby as the first game of the season? Well, it turns out there are also measures in place to prevent rival clubs coming up against each other on the opening weekend.

Most clubs will have a partner club they cannot clash with,

said Thompson.

The obvious ones are; Manchester United and Manchester City, Liverpool and Everton and then when you get into London it gets a bit more complex and less obvious.

And clubs even have a say in when and where some of their fixtures will be played. In March, the Premier League sends to each of its member clubs a form asking them to fill in three things:

  1.  Are there any dates you wish not to be at home? The question is answered in conjunction with the local police.
  2. Which club do you want to pair with?
  3. Are there any teams you do not wish to play at home on Boxing Day?

“From observing the sequence we know how many of these dates we can meet. If and when we can’t, the Premier League will ask the club which of the requests are most important.

We cannot accommodate everything but, on average, we satisfy higher than 85 per cent every year.” added Glenn Thompson.

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